ONCE UPON A VILLA with Andrew Kaplan, feature
ONCE UPON A VILLA with Andrew Kaplan, feature
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The Big Thrill Discusses ONCE UPON A VILLA with Andrew Kaplan


In this wise, warm-hearted, witty, and LOL hilariously funny true account, New York Times bestselling author Andrew Kaplan tells what it’s like when he, his wife, and two-year-old son decided to chuck it all and live the fantasy in a villa by the sea in that extraordinary corner of the world – part international café society, part billionaires’ playground, part provincial France – that is the French Riviera.

Whether it’s matching wits with French bureaucracy, searching for the perfect bouillabaisse, encounters with con men, eccentric ex-pats, and Monaco’s royal family, partying with the international set on Onassis’ yacht, playing chess with a philosophical police chief, or adventures and friendships with the rich and famous and the presumably standoffish French, Once Upon a Villa will transport you to a fascinating and shrewdly-observed world that you will savor like your first-morning bite of pain au chocolate.

Author Photo: Andrew Kaplan

Andrew Kaplan

New York Times bestselling author Andrew Kaplan recently sat down with The Big Thrill to discuss his latest non-fiction, ONCE UPON A VILLA.

Can you pinpoint a moment or incident that sparked the idea for this book?

I hadn’t written anything in a long while. Rather than try to come up with a unique plot, I decided to make it easy on myself by just writing about something that really happened. While there were a lot of books about expats living in France or Tuscany or other romantic places, there were no books that I could find about a young American family deciding to chuck it all and move to the French Riviera, so it felt different and worth doing. I decided to write it in a fun way that readers would find entertaining and that has proven to be the case. As a bonus, it also got me back to writing.

A novel is such a major undertaking; there’s the writing of it, of course, then you’re spending months and months revising, polishing, and then promoting it. How did you know this was the book you wanted to spend the next couple of years on?

Because it was real. It actually happened. It was unique. It was fun.

Were there any particular books, movies, or songs that were knocking around in your head while you were writing this one?

The book that was knocking around in my head was the one I wrote when we lived on the French Riviera: Dragonfire. Naturally, there’s a lot about writing the book, dealing with my agent in London and British publishers, etc. in ONCE UPON A VILLA.

When you first created your protagonist for this book, did you see an empty space in crime lit that you wanted to fill? What can you share about the inspiration for that character?

The inspiration for the protagonist in this book is me. This is my story of a particular – perhaps unique – time in our lives.

In addition to a great read, what do you hope readers will take away from this story?

If you have a dream, don’t wait. Do it. Life isn’t a dress rehearsal. This is the only one you’ve got.

What can you share about what you’re working on next?

I’m working on two books actually. One is an existential murder mystery set in 12th century France, with the survival of the entire Jewish population of France at stake. The second is a combination contemporary murder mystery set in present-day China combined with historical fiction about a Jewish Holocaust refugee and a Chinese woman revolutionary set during World War Two and the Communist revolution in China. Also, there’s interest in a TV series based on my last book, “Blue Madagascar,” so my agent wants me to write a sequel to that thriller.


Andrew Kaplan is the author of two award-winning spy novel book series: “Scorpion” and “Homeland”, the original novels of the “Homeland” television series. His books have topped bestseller charts around the world and have been translated into 22 languages. His standalone novels include the NY Times bestsellers “Dragonfire,” “Hour of the Assassins,” about the hunt for the Nazi war criminal, Dr. Joseph Mengele, the ‘Angel of Death’ of Auschwitz, and “War of the Raven,” selected by the American Library Association as “one of the 100 Best Books ever written about World War Two.” His most recent novel, “Blue Madagascar,” a #1 Amazon Release, won the Global eBook Thriller and Chanticleer Thriller awards and was an International Thriller Writers Thriller Award finalist. His screenwriting career includes the James Bond film, “Goldeneye.”

To learn more about the author, please visit his website.